Transitional forms and the fossil record

An enormous catalog of transitional forms have been found since the time 60 years ago when Gould wrote his book. Since Gould’s long, long ago retirement from the field, paleontologists have discovered:

  • the long series from Pakicetus to blue whales
  • intermediate forms such as Tiktaalik in the transition from fish to amphibians.
  • a long series of transitional forms from dinosaurs to birds
  • a long series of transitional forms from early hominids to humans.



The fourth objection:

That brings up the next claim by the student, which is: “All of the in-between fossils could fit in the back of my Prius…” two examples are given

  1. The Valley of the Whales
  2. Video of “in-between” two others, and over long stretches of time - biologists fly to Canada and find the fish that emerged out of the water and we resulted from that.

I find the argument interesting: in that: similar bones design ( one bone then two then finger) equals common ancestry? Or should it read - similar bone design = similar bone design


Which do you think is the best example?
And why do you think so?

“The Panda’s Thumb”, page 182, second paragraph, fifth sentence. Good enough for you?

Like I said, read the original not some YEC quote mine site.

Common design patterns are one of the indications of common ancestry. The limbs of all tetrapods consist of a single bone, two bones, a bunch of little bones, and digits. Even vestigial limbs contain the same pattern of bones. Evolution works with what it is given so you see the same design pattern used over and over instead of a totally new pattern being used.

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Hi Chris,

Cetacean evolution and hominid -> human evolution seem to be particularly well documented in the fossil record.


Strange, since the link you provided includes a link to a more complete version of the quote used which includes my quote. Did you not bother to read your own source?

This quote is widely used on YEC sites. Which is why there are other sites, like the one you found, that point out using the quote misrepresents Gould.

  1. When you say “transitional” do you mean that the “species” represented by that fossil is on the evolutionary path between ape and man? Or do you mean that it is an intermediate form that is not on the path?
  2. What are the transitional forms in that series?

10 posts were split to a new topic: Common Design and Information

Rivals! Frenemies who changed the world

Rival US paleontologists discovered transitional forms of the horse

@aarceng this is wrong. PE was built on positive fossil evidence. Mainly trilobites and gastropods

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Hi TJ -

You make an excellent point.

However, please note that the quote function always misattributes the writer when one post quotes a post written by someone else. Thus it appears that I was arguing that PE is just an excuse for lack of transitional forms, which is not the case. I recommend that you edit the attribution by hand for clarity’s sake.


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I tried lol. That’s why I made sure to tag him. I’m not too good at discourse. So if a moderator would like to step in and edit it that’d be great

What about human evolution?

We can document gradually-morphing transitional forms for the past six million years, correct ?

Sure. In another thread we’ve been discussing how the morphology of feet has been evolving in conjunction with the development of obligate bipedalism.


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Which one would that be, please?

Here ya go, Erik:

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Thank you

The book “Frenemies” describes the discovery of all the transitional forms of the North American horse over the past 55 Myr or so

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The story so far…
Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy) has been proposed as a transitional species between apes and humans based on the assertion that it was an obligate biped. This claim was made by Johanson following the find of a knee bone in the Afar region of Ethopia which he believed came from an Australopithecus species and which showed an angled knee joint. Johanson was not a knee expert and went to the extent of raiding a local Afar burial mound to get a human knee bone for comparison.

This conclusion is however dubious since some apes do have angled knee joints (Orangutan and Spider monkey) and the sample size of known obligate bipeds is too small (one) to conclude that this is actually a requirement of bipeds.

Following this Johanson made the leap that the Laetoli tracks were made by A. afarensis even though he lacked foot bones to support that conclusion. We still have very few Australopithecus foot remains but the few we do have, Little Foot and Dikka Child, show a splayed (abducted) great toe which does not match the Laetoli Tracks.

The only Hominid known to leave footprints matching those at Laetoli are Homo sapiens. But “since they are dated at millions of years prior to when evolutionists believe modern humans arrived, they are regarded as australopithecine prints, by definition, even though australopithecine foot bones are substantially different from human ones. And then in an amazing twist, the same prints are held up as evidence that australopithecines walked upright like humans—regardless of the fact that other aspects of their anatomy indicate otherwise.” Sarfati & Matthews

Thus far the evidence used to propose A afarensis as a transitional species between apes and humans is decidedly weak.

Hi Chris,

You have vastly misrepresented the evidence, and Safarti, a physicist, has badly misrepresented it as well. Not out of malice, but out of lack of expertise and lack of careful consideration of the peer-reviewed research.

For example, Safarti asserts the following about the Laetoli prints:

Dr Russell Tuttle has shown that these are the same sorts of prints as made by habitually barefoot humans.

Nothing of the sort! Tuttle said the prints are “very similar to” modern human footprints. He did not say they are “identical to” modern human footprints. The difference is very, very important.

Much research has shown that the Laetoli prints were made by A. Afarensis, whose bio-mechanics are distinguishable from those of modern humans. Consider, for example, the peer-reviewed research by Hatala, et al. (2016):

We find that the Laetoli hominin probably used a more flexed limb posture at foot strike than modern humans when walking bipedally. The Laetoli footprints provide a clear snapshot of an early hominin bipedal gait that probably involved a limb posture that was slightly but significantly different from our own, and these data support the hypothesis that important evolutionary changes to hominin bipedalism occurred within the past 3.66 Myr. [emphasis added]

Source: Laetoli footprints reveal bipedal gait biomechanics different from those of modern humans and chimpanzees

Our friend @pevaquark cited this paper to you 25 days ago. Chris, please consider carefully: How is it that you grossly misrepresent the Laetoli footprints so soon after @Pevaquark presented this peer-reviewed research to you?

For the sake of readers who are inquisitive enough to delve into the actual research being done by anthropologists, I cite another key study of Laetoli footprint bio-mechanics–Crompton, et al. (2012):

Pixel-wise topographical statistical analysis of Laetoli footprint morphology, compared with results from experimental studies of footprint formation; foot-pressure measurements in bipedalism of humans and non-human great apes; and computer simulation techniques, indicate that most of these functional features were already present, albeit less strongly expressed than in ourselves, in the maker of the Laetoli G-1 footprint trail, 3.66 Mya. [emphasis added]

Since you seem to have no interest in reading the papers that have been cited to you, nor in addressing the points made by @pevaquark and me, I do not see how we can have a meaningful conversation on this subject, Chris. So I conclude by bidding you Godspeed in all your endeavors. May you and yours enjoy great blessings in every way.


P.S. The fact that the original discoverer had no expertise in hominin gait bio-mechanics is utterly irrelevant. It is no more relevant than Darwin’s ignorance of DNA. A lot of good peer-reviewed research has since been conducted and published on the Laetoli discoveries. Rather than snipe at the relative ignorance of the original discoverer, wouldn’t it be better and more noble to take on the hard but enjoyable work of reading the peer-reviewed research that has been conducted since?


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